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For most of us, camping is about getting back to nature and enjoying time outdoors with our friends and family.
For those that live in Scotland or visit we can really experience getting back to nature or closer to nature by wild camping. This has certainly become more popular over recent years with freely available information, pictures and favourite locations being shared over the internet.
You know what it can be like, you see a picture on Instagram or Facebook and think “I wanna go there” and set about finding out where the picture was taken if it’s not already been tagged by the person who posted it.
More and more people are using these social media sites to discover places plan trips and holidays away to them.
About Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond sits proudly in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The park which covers 720 square miles of Scotland has long been a popular place for outdoor lovers, especially campers. With the park seeing an estimated 7 million visitors each year and many of them visiting Loch Lomond alone it can be a very busy place.
People visit for many different reasons. For the stunning and beautiful scenery, walking and hiking and exploring the lochs. Many visitors just visit for the day or are passing through as they head up into the highlands. We’ve always seen it as the gateway to the highlands as if not visiting for the day or weekends it is a must for us to stop somewhere along Loch Lomond on our way north to the highlands. Two favourite spots for us is Luss (especially for a breakfast roll and cuppa) and Firkin Point. These allow us to get out the car, take in the view, stretch our legs and top up our own fuel tanks (stomachs).
As many people know, here in Scotland, we are still able to wild camp as people have the right to be on most land providing, they act responsibly. This means that we can camp in most places, even on owned land so long as we have the owner’s permission. The key to being able to camp wildly is to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
The main points of the code are as follows:
• Take responsibility for your own actions
• Respect the interests of others
• Care for the environment
You can read these in full by visiting www.outdooraccess-scotland.com
Due to wild camping becoming increasingly popular around many of the lochs within the national park, especially around Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority introduced camping bylaws in 2013. These bylaws were originally brought in to curb loutish and criminal behaviour by small groups of people who would visit the park and particular the shores of Loch Lomond.
Many people were and are still very unhappy about these bylaws being brought into action for varying reasons. Some because they feel that it infringes their rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act and others because they feel that is a money-making scheme and that other areas that are as popular may follow suite bringing an end to the freedom we have to camp freely in our country.
What are the Camping Bylaws?
The camping bylaws are now in place around Loch Lomond and the larger park area between the 1st March and 30th of September each year. The areas covered by these bylaws are clearly marked out in the park’s maps. If you are not staying in a designated campsite/motorhome site, you will need a valid permit.
*Please note that the bylaws also covers having fires and the collection of firewood within the park. You should always have a fire either in a fire bowl or pit or somewhere that will not cause damage and bring your own firewood. Collection of firewood is prohibited due to the effect it can have in disturbing and damaging wildlife.
Outwith these dates, you can wild camp as you would anywhere else in Scotland.
These bylaws mostly cover shorelines around some of the more popular lochs within the National Park and are marked according to whether you are using a tent or a motorhome and if pitching in a designated camping/motorhome site or a permit area.
There are 9 sites around Loch Lomond that you can stay at with your tent or motorhome and 6 permit sites for tents and 4 for motorhomes. There are many more sites and permit areas in the area of the park. You can see a full map of sites and designated permit areas here.
• Permits cost £3 per night for a tent/motorhome/camper.
• Permits can be booked for up to 3 nights at a single area.
• Permits can be booked up to eight weeks in advance.
• Permits allow you to arrive from 1 pm and leave by 11 am on the date of departure.
• A permit allows you to stay anywhere in your chosen permit area. These are clearly marked on the map and at the sites.
• Organised groups such as scouts, DoE and guides do not need permits but do need to have permission to stay in these areas within bylaw dates.
Permits can be booked online by visiting https://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/things-to-do/camping/get-a-permit/
Many permit areas and sites only have very basic facilities and at some permit areas the toilet facilities will only be open during the day so please take this into account when heading off on your travels.
We love Loch Lomond and the wider Trossachs and we feel that £3 is a very small price to pay for what you get and that it does indeed minimise the risk of being camped next to a bunch of rowdy teens intent in getting drunk and partying. Especially if taking young kids away with you it gives you slightly better peace of mind of enjoying your camping trip.